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Working to Bring EV Chargers to Apartment Dwellers in New Zealand

Tim Jones owns a Tesla Model 3, lives in an Auckland apartment, and is the current national president of the Body Corporate Chairs’ Group New Zealand. To say that he understands the frustration on all sides of the debate regarding electric vehicle charging in apartment blocks is an understatement. In 2018, BCCG and Tim participated in a user group to meet with Vector to provide feedback on draft guidelines they are preparing for public release. The report wisely commented: “A major initiative in this program revolves around how variable load can be dynamically managed.”

NZ Apartment dwellers

Tim Jones with his Tesla Model 3.

So, what has changed and what has not in the past 4 years? The technology has changed and the number of EVs has increased markedly. But the pace of EV charger installation is moving with the speed of a snail, Tim comments.

There is a need to accelerate installation of smart chargers which can dynamically manage the charging load. Fitting EV chargers into apartment buildings is the “low hanging fruit” in the harvest of climate change mitigation. But, it is likely that change will only come from pressure from the purchasers of EVs who also live in medium- and high-density housing.

Although the New Zealand government is focused on the public charging network, it is expected that sooner or later they will have to bring in regulations that govern existing apartments and new builds. A search of the EECA site did not bring up any articles on EV charging in apartments.

A recent survey of BCCG members regarding charging for EVs revealed a strong consensus. Many responders were keen to retrofit, but only a handful were actually doing it. However, the survey demonstrated a low level of understanding of the issues and technology around EV charging. The 400+ responders included individuals within buildings and the body corporates of buildings. In many cases, there appeared to be no clear view of the electrical needs of the building. BCCG continues to have discussions with the Ministry of Transport and industry providers.

The NZ government has introduced incentives for the purchase of EVs and this has led to a rapid increase in the number of EVs on the NZ roads. “Auckland is full of Tesla Model 3’s,” says Tim.

There are no chargers in the apartment block in which Tim lives, so he uses the Tesla Superchargers network. “There are over 30+ units here. It would be easy to put one in every second parking spot, for example.”

With the price of chargers and installation coming down, the number of electric cars increasing, and the technology to dynamically manage the charging load, the pressure will be on to increase the pace of installation.

 
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David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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